The Glaad study also found 20% of all TV series regulars in 2016-17 will be black, another record number in its 21 years of monitoring diversity
The 2016-17 television season will have the highest percentage of LGBTQ regular characters yet, a new study released on Thursday said.
The research conducted by Glaad, an LGBTQ media advocacy organization, found that 4.8% (43) of the characters expected to appear on primetime scripted broadcast TV will be LGBTQ, a record in the 21 years it has been tracking such numbers.
The report, titled Where We Are on TV, analyzes the overall diversity of prime-time scripted series on broadcast, cable and streaming services in the US.
The study also found that 20% of all series regulars in 2016-17 will be black, another record number in terms of representation. Furthermore the number of regular or recurring transgender characters more than doubled from seven to 16, thanks to shows such as The Fosters and Doubt.
While it is heartening to see progress being made in LGBTQ representation on television, its important to remember that numbers are only part of the story, and we must continue the push for more diverse and intricate portrayals of the LGBTQ community, said Sarah Kate Ellis, Glaad president and CEO, in a press release.
Ellis noted that 25 queer female characters have died on scripted television shows in 2016 alone. These deaths were usually to advance the narrative of the straight main character. To kill these characters in droves sends a toxic message about the worth of queer female stories, Ellis wrote in the report. Of the three platforms analyzed, broadcast was the deadliest for lesbian and bisexual women. The report said as at least 12 characters were killed since the beginning of 2016.
Fox and ABC led the way in terms of LGBTQ representation on broadcast, with 6.4% and 7.3% representation respectively.
While gay men make up the lions share of representation on cable and broadcast shows, lesbians were best represented on streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Forty-three percent (28 characters) of the LGBTQ characters on streaming services are lesbians, driven by shows such as Orange is the New Black and Wentworth.
The increase in the number of black characters on TV can be attributed to a range of successful shows with multiple black cast members such as Empire and Black-ish, as well as a backlash from the #OscarSoWhite controversy last year that encouraged studios to cast more black actors. Black women have an especially difficult time breaking into the industry as they make up only 38% of all black series characters.
Despite the overall increase, LGBTQ characters remain overwhelmingly white. The report found this was particularly true on cable and streaming services, where regular and recurring LGBTQ characters were 72% and 71% white respectively.
The report also looked at regular characters with disabilities and found another record high at 1.7% (15 characters), an increase from 0.9% the year prior. The report included characters who would be included under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which includes people living with non-apparent disabilities such as cancer or HIV/Aids. A third of those characters appear on Fox, which leads the way with five characters with disabilities. Three of those characters are on Empire.